BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — Simon Fraser University is reviewing whether to change its team name after more calls to do so.
Anti-racism protests have renewed talk about whether the “Simon Fraser Clan” — formally known as the “Simon Fraser Clansmen” — should be dropped.
An online petition calling for a new name has racked up more than 4,500 signatures, as of Friday.
“Simon Fraser University’s Team name is the Simon Fraser Clan and formally the Simon Fraser Clansmen, which is supposed to be inspired by Scottish heritage. The name was inspired by the fact that Simon Fraser (the person the university is named after) was of Scottish descent. This aside, the unfortunate and prominent North American history behind the name “Clansman” (and variations of this name) is harsh and racist,” says the petition.
“The implications of the political and social realm behind this history and era have directly affected Black communities to this day on several levels. The worrisome part about this is it puts SFU’s NCAA athletes at risk when in the states, but it also undermines North American Black history regarding lynching, the KKK, segregation, and more.”
SFU redesigned sports uniforms last year. They go into the U.S. dressed like Team Canada now and have Clan as the team name. Time for a name change. pic.twitter.com/e5lJZ0hJNb
— Wade Heidt (@WadeHeidt) June 11, 2020
SFU is the only Canadian school that competes in the U.S.-based NCAA.
The petition demands SFU change the team name.
“We know there are many different perspectives and opinions about the Clan athletics team nickname, which honours indigenous Scottish traditions,” Ian Bryce, media relations for SFU, says in an email.
“… We are aware that some have mistakenly made associations between our Scottish nickname and the Ku Klux Klan. The university is deeply troubled by and attentive to the emotions and concerns to which these associations have given rise, particularly in light of our revulsion to and condemnation of anti-Black racism.”
He said a review of the school’s moniker has been underway for several months.
“The process will be completed by the end of the summer, with a recommendation of next steps,” Bryce said. “The university is deeply committed to Black students, faculty and staff, and to the community at large. We acknowledge that we have much work to do to ensure that our ideals for a just society are reflected in our own practices, policies and procedures, and we are actively engaged in efforts to better support the Black community.”
In 2017, SFU philosophy professor Holly Andersen launched a petition to persuade the university to change the name, saying it’s disrespectful to African-American competitors to force them to play against a team named the Clan.
-with files from Hana Mae Nassar